Ways to share your genealogical discoveries with others

Alicia Crane WilliamsThe Early New England Families Study Project has been well received, and I have already had a number of offers from generous individuals who wish to share their research with the project.  I do appreciate the offers, really, but I have to politely decline.

First, there are potentially 35,000 sketches to be done on families in seventeenth-century New England, which we are compiling in chronological order by year of marriage beginning with the early 1640s. Research sent to me could sit in a file for decades.

Second, I already have access to every book and manuscript in the NEHGS library and an Internet connection, and, well, let’s face it, genealogists love to share, but they tend to share derivative material taken from books or off the Internet.

Third, gathering information is only the beginning. The true value comes with critical analysis of what has been gathered and the experience to know what to do with it.

If you have done original research using primary sources and believe you have corrected an error in print, or solved the problem of a wife’s maiden name, or proved the migration of a family, or if you have unpublished Bible, probate, land, or court records, then you want to get that information out where researchers can use it now.  In this day and age there are so many ways to “publish,” beginning with posting on an Internet genealogy site, on your own web pages, or even on Facebook!  I also strongly advocate all genealogists learn how to compose in “Register Style,” and the best way to learn is to prepare a potential article for The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. (Even if it doesn’t turn into a published article, the practice of organizing, analyzing and documenting your work will be valuable.)  Researchers who have compiled genealogical treatments of their families should consider depositing a copy with the NEHGS, where it will be catalogued and made available to other researchers.

For more information on “Register Style” and publishing in the NEHGS magazine, see http://www.americanancestors.org/register-submission/. For potential donations of manuscript material, contact Manager of Manuscript Collections Timothy Salls at tsalls@nehgs.org.  And if you really, really feel you have original material that will benefit the Early New England Families Study Project, send it to me at alicia.williams@nehgs.org.

About Alicia Crane Williams

Alicia Crane Williams, FASG, Lead Genealogist of Early Families of New England Study Project, has compiled and edited numerous important genealogical publications including The Mayflower Descendant and the Alden Family “Silver Book” Five Generations project of the Mayflower Society. Most recently, she is the author of the 2017 edition of The Babson Genealogy, 1606-2017, Descendants of Thomas and Isabel Babson who first arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637. Alicia has served as Historian of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Assistant Historian General at the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and as Genealogist of the Alden Kindred of America. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in History from Northeastern University.

7 thoughts on “Ways to share your genealogical discoveries with others

  1. Alicia, is there an up-to-date list of the sketches already completed in this project? I know that there are just a few at this time. I’ve searched using the collection and names but rarely find one for “my folks”

    1. Hi Randy, Go to Search and under Categories select “Genealogies, etc.”, and under Databases select “Early Families of NE” and when you get there, the dropdown list under “Volume” gives you the names of all the principles in the database.

      That also reminds me that I ought to get that list into a blog and keep it updated as new ones go up!

      1. Thanks for the help. I somehow missed that process in my many visits to the website. I’m on it almost every day – love the Mass VRs! I use them to add sources to my database where I didn’t have a source.

  2. My immigrant ancestor, John Burwell, b. 1602 in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England, was one of the founders of Milford, Connecticut. He arrived in Massachusetts in 1635 and is listed in “Families of Early Milford, Connecticut.”

    1. Beth,

      John Burwell of Milford didn’t arrive in New England as early as 1635. I think that date comes from some sources that confuse him with John Burrill of Roxbury (see “Great Migration Immigrants 1634-1635,” I:499). John of Milford apparently was a free planter in Milford in 1639, which means he falls into the part of the Great Migration Project that will treat immigrants between 1636 and 1640. Early New England Families starts with immigrants who came in 1641 or later (unless they were children who came with their families earlier) and will eventually deal with his sons, who married in the 1660s. Unfortunately, neither of these projects is likely to reach the Burwells very soon.

  3. You state that “genealogists love to share, but they tend to share derivative material taken from books or off the Internet.” As I look at the sketch of my ancestor, Henry Kimball, I notice that almost all the sources are books. Are those not derivative?

    1. Donna, good point. The Early Families Project sketches are analyzed summaries of what is in print, although we do add some new primary records if the previously published material is lacking. We examine all of the treatments that are available, plus all of the published vital records, etc., and come up with the best summary of everything. “Secondary” sources come in different levels of reliability depending on whether they provide their sources for information. Citations to articles in the NEHGR or TAG, for example, are either to original material, such as the early records of Boston or abstracts of probate, or to documented articles about a family. One can’t judge a citation by it’s “cover” as they say, until one looks at the sources behind it.

      The type of “derivative” material that often gets passed around among genealogists includes copies of undocumented “trees” taken off the Internet or old obsolete secondary material.

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